Hawker Beech to charge for legacy aircraft support

 - December 23, 2009, 6:21 AM

Hawker Beechcraft recently changed its product support policy and will now charge legacy aircraft operators for support that has heretofore been free. Broadly speaking, the new program–called Class (classic legacy aircraft service & support)–targets aircraft that have been out of production for 10 or more years, and operators of those aircraft will be charged $125 per hour for technical support.

While some operators understand the applicability to ancient aircraft such as the Twin Bonanza, their sympathy abruptly ends when it comes to various King Air models, including some low-serial-number 200s and 300s. The company also noted that “future updates to this program may include additional serial numbers.”

According to Hawker Beech-craft, “Many of the airplanes operating in this fleet have been resold numerous times and have seen service all over the world. Some of these models were delivered more than 40 years ago. We receive inquiries regularly for services and information such as researching original configurations of old aircraft, looking up part numbers or technical information already in our publications, searching for material specifications, and sending out maintenance manual pages that are missing or sections of manuals for airplanes AOG at a non-HBC-rated facility. At the same time, our new fleets continue to grow and the demands for technical support on these expanded fleets and newer models continue to escalate.”

Under its global customer service and support program, Hawker Beechcraft says it has been providing free support and technical assistance for more than 38,000 airplanes regardless of age.

No Pricing Changes Planned at Other OEMs

Spokesmen for Cessna Aircraft and Dassault Falcon said the respective companies have no plans to do anything similar at this point. Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream product support, said there is no charge for routine telephone support; however, the company does assess a fee for “value-added services” such as engineering-drawing research to support modification.

Andy Nureddin, v-p customer services and support for Bombardier Aerospace Business Aircraft, said the company previously had a “classic aircraft” rate card but has canceled the program.

In a letter to Learjet 20/30/55 and Challenger 600/601 customers, Bombardier said, “Fol- lowing customer feedback we want to highlight to all our Learjet 20/30/55 and Challenger 600/601 operators that the same quality of service at the same price is available to you as [to operators of our] current production aircraft. In other words, whether you contact Bombardier for AOG, engineering or manual support, our support levels and fee structure will be consistent with those charges for production aircraft.

“There will be no additional charges for field service, customer response center and customer support account management support. Regardless of the type of Learjet, Challenger or Global aircraft you operate, our support commitment remains the same, and as such the previous classic aircraft support rate card has been rescinded.”

Now that Hawker Beechcraft has opened the door, the question is bound to arise, “If they can do it, why can’t we?” but for the time being the other OEMs have no plans for such changes.